It was a big Sunday

June 29, 2009

The brewed-up T-34/85 wreck terrain piece is done! Here’s the base that it rests on: T3485 modular base

Here’s the inked, drybrushed and matt-varnish-sealed piece that you’ve all been waiting for: T3485 profile T3485 side

From the above, you’ve now had a good look at the home-made Rust blend that I made, combining Blood Red with Brazen Brass and the Brown Ink (R.I.P.). It doesn’t look so powerful here, because I’ve gone and applied two very heavy washes over it of the new Citadel pre-mixed Wash (or watered-down Inks, curse it), Ogryn Flesh. I should have just used one medium coat of Ogryn Flesh – you can see the Rust has become very brown from the washes. The Ogryn Flesh Wash has helped to take the shiny Bronze edge off the Brass particles, though…I’m tempted to keep this homemade Rust to use for mufflers and the like, where they recommend using a Rust – usually I’ve just used Boltgun Metal washed twice with Flesh Ink (R.I.P.). Have a look at the rear of the T-34/85: T3485 rear I think the rust on those mufflers has worked well.

I remember now where the idea for this terrain piece first came from – I was watching another wargame rules-set being played at NWA one night, where a good friend was learning to play. The objective for both sides was to reach a tank in the middle of the board (an ‘objective marker’). I have blended that idea with photo evidence from various ‘eyewitness’ books of the Eastern Front, where wrecked tanks were used as forward Artillery Observation Posts (because they were safe to be under when you were being shelled).

So, the terrain piece is done, as well as the two Revell Tiger I’s that were done as company command vehicles. Apart from having slightly different numbers on the side, an extra aerial added on the turret and MGs mounted for air defence, they aren’t any different to the four Tigers I’ve already got. This time they are perfect, since I knew what to watch for during construction. The one error I made (and was fixed) was discovered just as I was about to varnish them –  I realised I’d left the Balkenkreusz off both tanks. That set me back two hours.  The numbering advice I’ve used comes from here.

Hills! Yes, more terrain.

I was able to undercoat the two hills you’d seen me prepare previously. First, you need to get some pinboard tacks, ones that don’t go all the way in to the end: Before tacks

Begin to stick the tacks in, about an inch apart from each other and at least half an inch (or more if your hill has a gentle gradient) apart: mid tack I advocate using as many tacks as possible, as some always come out during undercoating or flocking: end tack

If your hills aren’t standing completely free of the surface they rest on, get better tacks and start again: resting

Now you can begin undercoating. I’m using good old Brown Kayak acrylic from Haymes, painting from the top of the hill downwards: begin undercoat You don’t have to apply it thickly, but you do want to completely cover everything: undercoat continued and it’s best to undercoat while holding them in one hand. When you’ve completely covered all the white, put it down and let dry for 24 hours: undercoated

Tonight (monday night) I applied on a second undercoat. This time I applied it quite thickly, but again, I made sure I covered everything – sometimes little air pockets are formed as you apply the first coat and they will be uncovered during the drying – get the brush bristles in there and paint them in well.

Sometime next weekend I’ll begin the flocking.

I also washed a number of sprues in detergent and very warm water, then air dried  them. I use an old coat-hanger, cut and reshaped, to hang them on: drying washed sprues

Next weekend (earlier if there’s a good, warm afternoon) I’ll undercoat them – then all these recon units can be commenced.

Having searched fairly extensively using my librarian skills to find samples of the new Citadel pre-mixed Washes and failing frustratingly, I bought the three I thought I’d need and made my own colour card, thus: New Citadel pre-mixed washes

So, there they are – Devlan Mud, Ogryn Flesh and Gryphonne Sepia. They have been applied in differing layers of thickness – from left to right, one layer, then two, finally three.

My colour card for Citadel’s Chestnut Ink, Brown Ink & Flesh Ink (R.I.P.) : Old Citadel inks

Guess I’ll have to adapt to the new pre-mixed Washes…but those Inks were good because they were handy both at full strength and watered down! I can’t make those Washes full strength. Might be time to start looking elsewhere for Inks.

Have had a go using Hob-e-tac for some scenery projects (not for WWII, though). I used it in a warm room – followed the instructions to the letter by applying it and then waiting 15 minutes before applying what I wanted to stick down (coarse turf, in this instance). I didn’t use the brush included in the tube, it was far too broad for my project. I used an old fine-gauged paintbrush instead to spread it.

It became tacky exactly as outlined – very tacky! Warning – try not to let it get stuck onto your fingers, or you’ll be carrying little bits of terrain on them across projects. A good soaping and then scrubbing in hot water solved the problem. Today, 24 hours after application, I went back to those projects to prepare them for final sealing tomorrow…that stuff remind me a little of silicone sealant, you can easily carve or scrape away the excess but without disturbing the paint underneath! Nifty.

Tomorrow will be a big update. The destroyed T-34/85 terrain piece will be finished and I’ll also be moving on with those hills I started. I’ll be starting work on those kits I bought at the Swap & Sell earlier this month, too – it’s time to have some scouting/recon units as well as big tanks.

I mentioned below (or click on this link if you don’t want to scroll down) that I was working on another piece of WWII wargaming terrain that is impassable to vehicles – a knocked-out T-34/85 tank.

Here’s a pic: Brewed-up T-34-85 aerial

The piece is ideally representing a group or column of vehicles that have been knocked out / destroyed. This piece may portray the losers of an armoured battle; an armoured column hit by artillery; an armoured column attacked from the air; softskins hit by artillery or from the air…there are plenty of possibilities, if you do some reading!

I’m using up an Eastern Express T-34/85 that I bought but later decided I wasn’t going to ever assemble and use for active gaming.

This piece of terrain should be kept fairly small – as you can see, it only extends a short distance around the circumference of the model. All the paint has been applied – I’ve been wanting to apply washes and inks, to represent mud and also weeping rust, but haven’t had the inks and necessary paints until last night. Hopefully I can apply these this weekend, and then this terrain piece will be complete. Here’s a second pic, from a slightly different angle: Brewed-up T-34-85 side

***

Nearly every wargame table benefits from having at least one hill on it. I’ve made hills for both the 15mm scale and for sci-fi wargaming scales in the past and nowadays make hills for 15mm scale and also 20mm scale (1:72).

Having rescued some very thick (80mm) house insulation polystyrene foam that was destined for a rubbish tip last year, I spent a cooler summer day cutting it into the rough shapes for some tall, steep hills (the plan being to use these steep hills to represent the mountainous regions of Romania, Hungary or Italy).

I used a hot wire cutter to get the rough shapes I wanted. This is a dangerous thing to do because:

  1. If you’re using an industrial unit like I was, you may scald yourself on the wire;
  2. You need to do it where there is plenty of fresh air;
  3. You must wear eye protection as the fumes can damage your eyes.

Therefore, do it outside or where you have good airflow; wear tradesmans’ or lab technicians’ safety glasses; wear old clothing and lastly do everything slowly and take plenty of breaks so your concentration remains unwavering.

Two of the end results were these: Roughly shaped blanks

On the weekend, deciding to get a few of these hills made for a game while Peter’s busy, I tool out my Olfa snap-blade cutter (Get knife) and shaved off and smoothed the hard angles and rough edges –                             as you can see here: Shave and smooth blanks

Using a Olfa blade, packing knife or anything similar is also quite dangerous. Remember to always cut away from you (always, no getting lazy!); check first that each cut is necessary before making it (don’t just absent-mindedly whittle away) and always retract the blade fully before putting the tool down and check that it was retracted fully before you reach down to pick it up again!

Provided the weather is good (well, not wet and/or frosty) this weekend, I can take these two smoothed, prepared hills Completed first stage and move on to stage 2 – undercoating them with paint.

While working on the Command Tigers and that SdKfz 7/1, I began working on some more terrain – another piece of terrain impassable to vehicles (but not to foot troops).

Regular readers will recall that I used tracks from the Eastern Express T-34/85 kit for the tracks on the SdKfz 7/1. That left me with a T-3485 with no tracks.

So, I went ahead and assembled it on the side (and a horrible kit it was, even if much of it was easy – the hull top didn’t fit the hull bottom and the same problem occurred in assembling the turret. Lots of filing, glue and putty were used to correct these defects.

I then applied battle damage to the finished model – and glued it to sheet styrene. This will become a destroyed vehicle or representative of destroyed vehicles – a useful terrain piece to block roads or intersections in towns.

So far, it’s looking good! Photos to come.

Back to Tigers

May 24, 2009

As I got closer to finishing the SdKfz 7/1, I commenced work on two command Tigers. They are the same Revell kit as before, except this time I had plenty of experience in assembling them (and knowing where to stop and do steps in a different order, as well as drill out the holes ahead of time) to draw upon.

This time, the track sag is a lot better…it looks a bit more natural then the previous four, where everything felt too angular. Instead of straight lines and sharp angles, the result was closer to a lazy curve, which is what I wanted.

The Doug Chaltry Technique was completed pretty quickly…I had two evening shifts the previous week and we had some warm weather too, so all those ink coats were done two each day rather than singly. I’d like to mention that the Eastern Express tracks that I used on the SdKfz 7/1 took the Doug Chaltry Technique wonderfully – so much so that if I see any more cheap at Swap-n-Sells, I’ll be buying them just to keep the tracks for when I have vinyl tracks to replace! (Yes, I do have kits yet to do with vinyl tracks, so stay tuned).

I don’t have star aerials to put on these two tanks. A colleague and fellow member of NWA has star aerials on his command vehicles and they look fantastic. I don’t have any and can’t think of any way to effectively kitbash them at this scale…I’d welcome advice if you, good readers, do. I’m just going to give them a second shorter aerial mounted through the roof of the turret.

Speaking of Nunawading Wargames Association, we had one of our two annual Sale Nights on Friday. I picked up (after cleaning and assessing them today): 50-odd conifers in 6mm-15mm scale, which will be perfect for my 15mm other wargaming interest; 10 conifers that will be ok for 1:72/1:76 and eight ready-made plastic kit trees. I’m not sure if they are Woodland Scenics Tree Armatures or an imitation. Either way, they are certainly very old and have been exposed to a lot of heat over their lifetimes, as the plastic has become pretty brittle and I snapped off lots of finer twigs and branches just trying to clean them up and get them ready for undercoating. There are enough major boughs and sturdy branches to proceed – I threw away the trees that didn’t survive the cleaning process.

The tree kits we perhaps the best buy of the night (for me), as now I have an excuse to make some trees in Autumn colours. I’ll probably go with Woodland Scenics for them, although if I can be impressed enough by Heki then I may explore that path just for this project. If my experimenting is successful, then I may decide to do more Autumn trees…

Darn vinyl tracks

May 1, 2009

The vinyl tracks that were supplied with the Sd.Kfz 7/1 that I was assembling cracked and broke only five minutes after starting to flex them into shape.  Annoying. But then, that kit was bought at a Swap-n-sell…it may have been sitting in a tin shed for many years enduring our hot summers – which would naturally make the vinyl brittle and cracked.

I had bought (also at a Swap-n-sell) an Eastern Express T-34/85, which I later realised (thanks to the mighty Henk of Holland) has a number of inaccuracies, so I won’t build it. Instead, it was put aside for kitbash fodder and for stowage fodder.

I had a brainwave that its tracks might work well on the Sd.Kfz 7/1…and indeed they do! So, rather than having a second AA vehicle become impossible to complete (as I wasn’t going to buy separate tracks for it) it is nearing completion – painting two of the crew up commences tonight.